Sandra’s Occasional Newsletter – Oct 2021


A little bit of news… but not too much. 

“Love the book you’re writing because you’ll read it a hundred times.”

Posted in the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Facebook Group

Shameless Promotion

Admiral William H. P. Blandy and his wife cut an Operation Crossroads cake shaped like the Test Baker radioactive blast on July 25, 1946, while Admiral Frank J. Lowry looks on. (Washington Post, Nov. 8, 1946)

In this year of the 75th Anniversary of Operation Crossroads, the first postwar atomic bomb tests at Bikini in 1946, the series of excerpts from Bill McGee’s atomic memoir ends with this highly controversial photo. Adm Blandy, the supreme commander of Crossroads, was highly-criticized by the clergy and the public for this photo. A cake shaped like an atomic mushroom cloud and Mrs. Blandy’s hat were viewed as entirely inappropriate objects for celebration. Blandy’s response to the outrage and criticism, “Too ridiculous to deserve any comment.”  View 21 excerpts from Bill’s memoir HERE.

The Divorce Seekers – True Stories from the Reno Divorce Ranch Era
For Laura S., who knew members of the Kitselman family. A story from the upcoming second edition of The Divorce Seekers – True Stories from the Reno Divorce Ranch Era … [read time 2 mins]

Caption: In the midst of their wrangling over whether Beau Kitselman was nuts when he deeded family ranch to his sister, the Kitselmans meet and nearly make up. From the left: Mrs. Marjorie Kitselman Rautzahn (sister), Mrs. Leslie Kitselman Figueroa (mother), Alva (Beau) Kitselman, Mrs. Florence Kitselman (Beau’s wife), Donald Kitselman and Donald’s wife, June. (Photo New York Daily News, Dec 21, 1947)


Nevada State Journal, Nov 26, 1947 – Alva LaSalle Kitselman, better known to his family and friends as “Beau,” took the stand in court to tell how, while he was under a yoga spell, his mother and sister claim he gave away his Sage Ranch to them.

Beau is the scion of a prominent family. His father was a wealthy steel man of Muncie, Indiana. His mother is the former Leslie Curtis, a prominent newspaperwoman who came to Reno to do a story about big time divorces and wrote Reno Reveries, the first nationally circulated book about Reno published around 1910. She is married to Fidel Figueroa, an industrialist and well-known Mexican artist of Taxco, Guerrero.

Beau’s mother, Leslie Curtis Kitselman Figueroa, and his sister, Marjorie Kitselman Dunn Hanson O’Shea Rautzahn, claim they were deeded the ranch from Beau in 1940.

Beau claims his mother and sister tricked him out of the ranch while he was sitting cross-legged in a dark room on his ranch practicing yoga and fell into periods of unconsciousness. He also says in addition to his yoga practice and mystical studies, he was suffering from the shock of his father’s death in 1940.

Beau bought the ranch in 1936 for $67,000. When his mother and sister took over the ranch in 1940, they incorporated the ranch as The Sage, Inc., and leased it to the Pyramid Lake Ranch, Inc., headed by Walter L. Pattridge. In 1946, Harry and Joan Drackert subleased the ranch from the Pyramid Lake Ranch, Inc.

On November 26, 1947, Beau Kitselman filed suit to regain possession of the ranch from his mother and sister.

His mother and sister are seeking to show that Beau is an able business man, an accomplished mathematician and musician, and capable of taking of handling his business transactions – even giving away his ranch.

Beau says his studies of Hindu philosophy made him incapable of questioning anyone’s word. He claims he lost his business and musical abilities in the darkened room in which he practiced yoga. He says he has returned to a Western outlook which has brought about his desire to get back his former possessions. For the last few years, he has lived at the Pyramid Lake property.

He confessed he probably incorrectly learned the yoga posture. Coupled with an effort to suspend breathing, it rendered him unconscious for long periods of time and contributed to his lapses of memory.

Postscript August 1948Leslie Curtis Kitselman Figueroa won the sensational lawsuit against her son, Alva LaSalle Kitselman.


Thank you for reading this month’s missive and wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. Please leave your comment below…

– Sandra



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